As a Master Instructor, I work with numerous students each year. One of the most popular topics in pool of late has been the discussion of how professional players aim.
Many pros use the old ghost ball system, or aim through the aid of their memory from thousands of shots they have struck during their careers. However, the majority of professionals prefer to use some type of concrete aiming system.
Aiming systems range from the very simple to the complex (Center to Edge). Personally, I find that most students really don’t want to learn an aiming system that is overly complicated, and I also find that the simplest systems (like ghost ball) just aren’t all that effective.
I have found that the best aiming system for most players is one that is both simple and effective.The system that I use is both easy to learn and accurate.
I like to call this system, “Point and Aim.” This system is very similar to the one previously taught by Bert Kinister and Shane VanBoening. Parts of the technique I am referring to we repreviously referred to as “The Edge of the Shaft” system.
As you can see here, the first shot is straight in. For this shot you would use the center of your shaft through the center of the cue ball and draw an imaginary line into the base of the object ball. You can also use the center of your shaft to calculate slight variances up to around 14 degrees. Simply point the center of your cue into the point on the object ball that is on the line into the pocket.
Once you reach 15 degrees, the system changes slightly. For a 15 degree cut to your right, you should aim the right edge of your shaft into the imaginary line on the ball that points into the center of the pocket (center of the white line as shown).
For a 30-degree cut to your right, you should aim the right edge of your shaft into approximately 25 percent of the left side of the object ball
For a 45-degree cut to your right, you should aim the right edge of your shaft into the left edge of the object ball.
In essence, the idea is to use the right edge of your shaft if you are cutting a ball to the right and use the left edge of the shaft when you are cutting balls to your left.
The problem with the system is that once you go beyond 45 degrees there is nowhere on the object ball that you can point your shaft to.
Anything beyond a 45-degree cut requires a player to use a slightly different strategy. In other words, for really thin cut shots to the right, you should aim using the right edge of the cue ball into the left edge of theobject ball and vice versa for thin cuts to your left.
I believe this collection of aiming strategies will come in handy for you during match play. The strategies will serve as a solid foundation for aiming and will create a direct connection between your cue stick, the cue ball, and the object ball. With some practice, the “Point and Aim” system above will give you a solid framework that will help you pocket balls more consistently.
Remember, practice makes perfect. In the words of Annie Oakley, “Aim at the high mark and you will hit it. Not the first time, not the second, and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting. Finally you’ll hit!”
Author: Anthony Beeler
Anthony Beeler is an instructional columnist for Pool and Billiard Magazine and On the Break News. He is the owner and founder of Virtual Billiard Academy and the Angles as a Second Language Course. He is a player representative for McDermott Custom Cues and is a four time Kentucky State 9-Ball Champion. In addition, he also won the 2013 BCAPL National 9-Ball Championship and has a total of six top 25 national finishes to his credit.
Editor: Chris Freeman
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